Grays State Cinema
In the heart of Grays town centre you will find this brick built art deco goliath. Originally planned and built as the Roxy cinema the State opened on Monday 5th September 1938 with the showing of the 1938 film The Hurricane staring Dorothy Lamour. Designed by architect Frederick Chancellor of Frank Matcham and Company the State boasted an impressive 2200 seating capacity and air conditioning and was one of the largest cinemas in Essex. The State also featured an illuminated Compton pipe Organ and full stage facilities which enabled the building to be used as a fully functioning theatre/ live entertainment venue. The building cost approximately £100,000 to build which equates to around £3 million in today's money.
The State operated successfully as a cinema and entertainment venue up until the early 1980's when Television became the favoured entertainment of the masses. The State remained open as a cinema up until 1989 when it was then not economically viable to use as a cinema due to dwindling audiences sometimes in single figures. This was probably due to the rising popularity of VHS film rental and also a newer multiscreen cinema being built at the Lakeside retail park just a couple of miles down the road. The State Cinema closed on 30th November 1989, it's future uncertain and in desperate need of a new lease of life.
In the 90's the building was also used for a music video by jamiroquai, Deeper Under Ground for the Godzilla film also a sequence was shot for the 1988 film "Who framed Roger Rabbit" staring Bob Hoskins.
On 28th June 2000 the State was reclassified as a Grade II* listed building by English Heritage.
The Cinema and vast car parking area was sold to the supermarket chain Morrisons in 2001 with promises made to Thurrock council that some sort of restoration or new life for the building would be forth coming. Unfortunately Morrisons were only interested in building their gigantic supermaket on the land and the land they purchased adjacent to the State and the building was left to rot even further. In 2006 the Building was sold by Morrisons for around £550,000 to a company called TSP Properties. No new ideas have emerged from the current owners but they have been quoted on another website as saying that the State will never be used as a cinema again.
The State is now in a state of neglect with water ingress and most recently metal thieves have found there way in after being sealed for more than 15 years. The future looks bleak for such an awesome building and will no doubt suffer the fate of most old cinemas.
After a chance shop in morrisons and upon exiting i casually checked it over and to my surprise i spied access! After a small sex wee i shot home picked up my kit and went straight back and i was in! The first thing that hits you is the dark and theres plenty of it! the smell of mould and damp fills the nostrils, finding my bearings i break out 2 torches and thats still not enough! As i walk up onto the stage and my eyes accustomed to the dark im greeted by an awesome site of the auditorium in all its dingy glory, now let the fun begin.
Solo explore of the cuff with only a rubbishy point n shoot camera, my pics dont do this gem justice. Due to it being exquisitely dark some photos i just couldnt get. I hope Mr B who i tipped off got better shots and hope to see them on here soon. On with the photos.
And now for the jack pot!!